Elected officials and business leaders met in Atlantic City this morning to urge Gov. Phil Murphy to allow for conventions and trade shows to be held again in the resort city. This industry sector accounts for $1.9 billion in revenues for the city, the Atlantic City Convention center, hotels and local businesses.
“The regulations for indoor and outdoor gatherings need to be revisited now so that capacity restrictions are consistent and take into consideration the venues’ usable square footage,” said Greater Atlantic City Chamber President Michael Chait. “Permitting these larger venues to have more attendees for events and meetings would in no way undermine public health and safety. These venues can safely conduct these events with masking, social distancing and adherence to the various health and safety protocols that have brought us through this pandemic.
Chait is optimistic about the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021 for the industry to come back as COVID-19 numbers are presently dropping. However, he said that guidance from the state is needed now as event planners book events months in advance. If they see other states easing restrictions for trade shows and conferences, Atlantic City and other conference centers throughout the state have the potential of losing three- to four-year contracts. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars that are not coming back just for Atlantic City alone,” Chait said.
“These event planners need guidance now! They need to know what safety protocols are going to be in place in order for them to have a show here next year, even if it’s baseline guidance so they can promote their events well in advance,” Chait said.
According to Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick, “I know how important meetings, conventions, and trade shows are to the economic livelihood of Atlantic City and the surrounding area. As an Atlantic County Commissioner, I believe it is crucial to champion the unique amenities Atlantic City has to offer and work to ensure we are not left out of reopening plans. Governor Murphy has done a commendable job with the vaccine rollout, and it is because of those successes that it is now time to allow for conventions and trade shows in Atlantic City once again.”
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo commented, “New Jersey has been a national leader in the vaccine rollout, and with new CDC guidelines concerning gatherings among vaccinated individuals, New Jersey is on the right path to demonstrate to the country that we can successfully conduct business in convention centers, sports facilities and casinos safely. To ensure Atlantic City’s economic success this year, Governor Murphy must take action immediately to allow for show managers and convention planners to bring their business to the area.”
“We need to work urgently on this matter because Atlantic City and the Second District can’t afford any missed opportunities to bring business into the area and provide jobs for those in need,” said Assemblyman John Armato. “By wearing masks, social distancing, comprehensive cleaning protocols, and using skilled labor who have completed nationally recognized COVID-19 preparedness training, there is no reason why conventions and trade shows cannot gather under the same guidelines as large sports and entertainment venues.”
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